First Person Accounts

Stories From Those Who Were There

Karen Dierker's Story

Karen was a resident of Wagner during the May 2011 wildfires.

We would like to say thank you to MD staff for the excellent way they handled the evacuation of the May 15th fire that changed our community. On May 14th, we were put on a two hour evacuation notice, which we are so grateful for. Because of that notice, we were able to pack our fifth wheel with albums, computers, clothes and keepsakes just in case of an evacuation.

On May 15th, we were getting a little more concerned as we looked at the smoke to the south of our acreage. Many phone calls were coming from family and friends in Slave Lake wondering how it was going out here. We kept saying we were doing fine till we got the call from a nice lady from the MD saying that we had 15 minutes to get out, and it wasn't long after that that we had a MD truck at our driveway also telling us to evacuate. All of a sudden reality hit. We took one last look through our home, Bob got in the truck and fifth wheel, I drove our other vehicle and we left for Slave Lake not knowing if we would have a home to come back to.

When we arrived in Slave Lake we parked on the grass area across from Whitecap Recreation with friends and family. At approximately 7:00 p.m., we made the call to leave Slave Lake and go to Smith. We ended up getting a campsite at Mosquito Lake which is where we called home for the next 13 nights.

The community of Smith was absolutely amazing. They went above and beyond in what they did for all the people that evacuated there. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. The MD came to the complex daily and updated everyone with maps of the burned areas, newspapers, question and answer periods. We know they were in the "hot seat" a lot of the time but they kept coming back and we thank you for that. I will always remember May 15th. We did not lose our home but our son, his wife and their two little boys from Slave Lake's 13th Street did. I will always be thankful to the MD for giving us the 2 hour evacuation notice. Our son and his family from Slave Lake never got that notice.


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